• Rick

CFB Week 5 Best Bets

We're four weeks into the season now and we're never short of chaos on a weekly basis. Last week the Big 12 was the source of the majority of the chaos with the staples going down unexpectedly. Oklahoma couldn't stop the two-pronged rushing attack of Kansas State and Texas without Quinn Ewers couldn't survive against the Red Raiders. Wake Forest nearly pulled off an upset against Clemson to secure their first win in the series in over a decade, but came up just short in an overtime thriller. In the late window, Southern Cal was 4 minutes away from their first loss of the season before Caleb Williams was finally able to put together a coherant drive as the clocked ticked toward zeros.

Moving into Week 5, we're blessed with 5 Top-25 clashes. Kentucky and Ole Miss face off in the Grove to determine which is for real at noon, followed by the 3:30 slate which blessed us with one in each of the SEC, ACC, and Big 12. Finally, we're capped off with arguably the game of the season in the ACC as North Carolina State travels to Clemson. A win for either sets them up to make a run at the College Football Playoff, while a loss could potentially put a nail in the coffin. While I might not have a play in each of those five games, here are my best bets going into Week 5!

Kentucky Wildcats @ Ole Miss Rebels (12:00 ET)

Favorite: Ole Miss -7

Total: 54.5

Every year I'm astounded by the progress that Mark Stoops and his staff has been able to achieve in Lexington. Not a decade ago, Kentucky was seen as the concensus #13 in the SEC, just ahead of Vanderbilt. Stoops was given a long leash and tons of patience from boosters and his Athletic Director, and that time has allowed him to build a culture and a program that might not get the best recruits, but develops their players well and more importantly, they all buy in to the process. This year is no different. While I don't believe Kentucky is the #7 team in the country, the voters have granted them the respect Stoops has earned after a stout performance in Gainesville to upset the Gators in week 2.

Now the Wildcats face Lane Kiffin and the Rebels, who have reinvented themselves after the loss of Matt Corral to the NFL. In his short time in Oxford Kiffin has been able to make his mark, and has done so largely through the transfer portal. While USC was the clear off-season winner there with Caleb Williams and Jordan Addison, Ole Miss was ranked 2nd according to 247sports. The Rebels have yet to play anybody worth a damn, but have largely looked good doing so. They are 7th in the country in rushing yards averaging 280.8 per game, and with a mobile quarterback like Jaxson Dart they'll continue to keep defenses guessing with read options and play actions.

I'm not entirely bought into Ole Miss and their defense. The toughest opponent they've played so far this season was Tulsa last week and they only won 35-27. They were up 35-17 at halftime and managed to get shutout in the 2nd half. Throughout the game the Rebels secondary had multiple mistakes, and the defense as a whole struggled with containment. Chris Rodriguez makes his season debut after leading the Wildcats in rushing last year with nearly 1400 yards, and the combination of him and Will Levis at quarterback should create quite a mobile 1-2 punch. Even though the offensive line for the Wildcats has struggled this year, the Rebels defensive line didn't wow me against Tulsa, so they shouldn't impress too much here. Add in that Khari Coleman and Otis Reese will miss the game and I get more concerned.

I'm not a fan of Kentucky's line on either side of the ball, but they did hold Anthony Richardson in check, who is somewhat comparable to Dart. If they crowd the box much like they did against Florida and stop the run, they should see success even with just 1-on-1 coverage on the outside. Kentucky could win this game outright, but I'll gladly take a touchdown and I'll go with the Kentucky team total as well.

Pick: Kentucky +7 -110 (1u) & Kentucky TT o23 -109 (1u)

Jordan Prather - USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State Cowboys @ Baylor Bears (12:00 ET)

Favorite: Baylor -2

Total: 57

The 2021 Big 12 Championship Game rematch is here, and the Cowboys are desperate for their revenge. Finishing 12-2 last season and returning a lot of their personnel defensively and with Spencer Sanders seemingly improving from mistakes that hampered their success in 2021, the Cowboys are eyeing a return to Jerry's World and a potential CFP birth, and that run starts in Waco.

While we believe the Sooners have improved given their demolition of much weaker opponents, they have yet to face a true test this season. As I eluded to above, Spencer Sanders seemingly has fixed his turnover mistakes that cost them big games (including the championship) last year. Through three games he has 10 TD and just 1 INT, throwing north of 300 yards a game. He'll face by far the best defense he's faced this year in Waco on Saturday, so I'm intrigued to see how he performs.

To the home team, Baylor has had a much tougher schedule to start the season. At 3-1, Baylor dispatched Albany in their opener before traveling to Provo to face a very good BYU team. An overtime loss will haunt their chances at a potential CFP birth and throwing for only 137 yards gives me pause in Baylor's ability to replace key receiving targets from last year. Either way, they regrouped and destroyed Texas State at home before traveling to Iowa State and winning comfortably as an underdog. Now the favorite at home, Baylor will have to prove against arguably the best defense and they've faced that the receivers can create seperation. If they can't, it won't matter how quality nor how much experience their offensive line has, the Cowboys will load the box and force the receivers to win against man coverage with 1 safety deep.

Given the combination of it being a revenge game for Oklahoma State, having a bye-week to prepare for the Bears, and the lack of offensive weapons for Baylor, I believe it's harsh by the books to make Oklahoma State nearly a field goal underdog. I'll take the points as this game should be close, but give me the Cowboys.

Pick: Oklahoma State +3 -130 (2u)

Brett Rojo - USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State Beavers @ Utah Utes (2:00 ET)

Favorite: Utes -10.5

Total: 54.5

I'd like to personally apologize to the Oregon State University. To all of the alumni, students, athletes, and staff, I apologize for turning on you all by believing in USC's offense to be dominant. If you've followed my analysis beginning in the preseason, you'd know just how high I am on the Beavers. I have futures on their win total over 5.5 and 6.5, and bet on them in their matchups against Fresno State and Boise State. I never should've doubted their abilities against the Trojans and I won't make the same mistake twice.

Getting 10 points on the road in Utah, the Beavers will look to resurrect their long-shot Pac 12 hopes with a massive upset on Saturday. Coming into the season as one of the three favorite in the conference, the Utes were quickly counted out after a disappointing loss to Florida, a loss that doesn't get any better with time. Since then, the Utes have dismantled their opposition 142-27. Granted they played some horrid competition, the defense has been dominant and the offense through Cam Rising has been solid all-around.

The touched on the Beavers schedule so far, but neglected how they've played in those games. Their defense looks like it might be the best in the conference. Their defensive back group has put their flag down as the best in the conference, and their rush defense has graded out according to PFF as the 2nd best group in the conference. They'll need to be on point against Utah, and if they are and can trust their DB group like they did against USC, the Utes could be in for a long day.

Given how quality both of these defenses are and how their offense goes through the run game, we should see the clock move with frequency and red zone stops for both teams. The line should be around seven points, so I'll take the Beavers and the under here as we should see a phenomenal contest.

Pick: Beavers +10.5 -110 (1.5u) & u54.5 -110 (1u)

Karl Maasdam - Oregon State Athletics

NC State Wolfpack @ Clemson Tigers (7:30 ET)

Favorite: Clemson -7

Total: 43.5

Don't look now, but Clemson's offense might just be finding themselves this year. While playing Wake Forest will do that to most teams, it wasn't the only sign of improvement we've seen from the Tigers. Will Shipley is one of the best running backs in the country, and their receiving group has shown improvements which is helping DJ Uiagalelei's play. With 10 TDs to 1 INT, DJ still isn't a world beater, but he is taking care of the ball and not making mistakes.

To get past and score against North Carolina State's defense though, you'll have to do more than that. Since surviving a geniune scare against ECU in their opener, the Wolfpack have only allowed 27 points. Discounting Charleston Southern and UConn, they allowed 14 to Texas Tech and that 14 feels generous. The Wolfpack held them to 2-12 on 3rd down and forced 4 turnovers in a dominating performance.

Where the defense has impressed this year like we expected, the offense has not. Returning nearly their entire offensive line to go with Devin Leary, many including myself expected the Wolfpack to take another step forward and have one of the better offenses this season. So far, that hasn't happened. They've been average at best and have relied on their defense to provide them short fields in their two close games to win games.

Clemson's defense is stellar, but are currently missing almost their entire defensive back unit. Don't let the Wake Forest game sway you too much, Sam Hartman took advantage of Freshman and Sophomore backups outside consistently to the tune of 6 passing touchdowns. Dabo Swinney has said there's no guarantee those players return on Saturday, and if they aren't back I'd love a play on NC State ML. Regardless, I'll take the points with the Wolfpack as we should have a gritty, high stakes affair. The winner takes the drivers seat in the division and solidifies themself atop the ACC. Give me the Wolfpack.

Pick: NC State +7 -110 (1u)

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